“Working harder” is the mantra of the work ethic. A philosophy that grew through the industrial revolution. In order to be competitive, to make it in business then better / faster / cheaper was the order of the day. Now it’s not that better / faster / cheaper isn’t important any more, it’s just that this isn’t going to be enough to have the competitive edge.
What’s more internally staff aren’t inspired or energised by this.
Here’s the thing about working harder – it doesn’t guarantee results that matter to the success of the business. What if you’re working really hard, but you’re doing the wrong thing?
Here are signs that the work ethic is strong in your business if the conversations are around:-
– Doing More
– Long Hours
– Time Management
– Fire Fighting / Urgency
– Fault & Blame
– Task focus
So if the work ethic has had its day, what’s the key to business success in today’s age?
Well let’s call it the success ethic. You know you have this as a philosophy or mindset when you hear conversations, make decisions or install processes that focus on the following:-
Every action or activity is producing results, ideally desired results, if not then some course correction is required. You’ll hear people discuss learnings, refinements, what’s next, what’s possible. Not who’s fault is this and who can we blame.
It’s going beyond responsibility, it’s taking ownership for getting the desired result (and no that doesn’t mean you have to do it all yourself.) Here’s a very short video I did a few years ago that distinguishes between accountability and responsibility.
– Adding Value
Yes it can sound abit woo woo and fluffy but the gripes I hear from staff and leaders alike are around doing activities that they don’t see make a difference or add value in some way. Meetings being a popular subject that people say are either a waste of time or unproductive. The other sneaky thief is doing tasks that used to add value but don’t anymore, but they’re habits and no one has recently taken time to check in with the value the tasks adds. Should it be stopped or evolved?
The majority of work completed on a daily basis should be important rather than urgent. When you let your email and the interruptions and requests from others dictate your day then you’re back in the work ethic. Plus you’re now working to someone else’s agenda, and not the one you know you need to do in order to deliver and be successful.
Benefits of switching to a success ethic
The success ethic then allows for people to show imagination, use their talents and knowledge, contribute more of themselves. And because the focus is on success and not work it doesn’t feel like a grind which means people have more energy to go on and do even more. Now that I believe will make more of a difference to a business looking to prosper.
In fact I know several business owners who are more profitable and productive this year than they were last year, and they’re working less hours. They’ve done this through shifting the focus of conversations and their leadership to one of success and delivering outcomes rather than delivering activities and competing on who has the longest to do list.
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